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My goal heading into the tournament was to play well diplomatically, and if I had a shot at a best country or winning the tournament, go do it. I assumed with all 3 rounds counting, if I could consistently score around 30 points, I'd have a good shot at doing well. In my first game, I drew England, the western nation that I have the greatest room for improvement. France was hobby veteran Andy Bartalone, Russia was Tournament Director Peter Yeargin (who was on the WDC top board), and in Germany a guy named Ron who had recently joined the Navy and claimed to be an avid webdipper.
I knew Russia's score wouldn't count as TD, so I figured he wasn't going to be playing for a solo. First I spoke with Andy (or Buffalo, as he's known in the hobby). He told me he doesn't move to the channel, and I took him at his word on that. I spoke with Germany first, wanting to get a better read on the unknown. He told me that "I don't like attacking France as Germany, it's never worked out in the past, so it's either a western triple or..." Protip: don't say that.
I agreed to the triple (at least temporarily), and also learned England intended to bounce Russia out of Sweden. I used that opportunity to convince Russia to do the "you move to baltic, he'll move to sweden, and I'll swipe Denmark. Then we can kill him together" thing, because I haven't tried that in a while.
Well, they bounced in Sweden anyways, and the move to Denmark failed. Buffalo and I kept our DMZ in the channel, with Buff moving south on a rookie Italy. Russia also built a fleet in the south coast, which, what? But Germany was mad at me, and initially worked with Russia against me. Then I turned Russia against him, pitching our original "let's leave each other alone" plan. Then, after accepting Russian support, I pivoted in the fall to kick Russia out of Sweden. Peter Yeargin was an absolute blast to negotiate with-even when we were fighting, we were cracking up the whole time. Big fan of him and his game.
A note on that stage of the game--Buff was slowly progressing against the Italian--didn't even have anything in MAO. I don't think I deserve full credit for that theatre working out my way--Germany just didn't play his best game.
Then Buff and I agreed that it was time for Germany to die, particularly as I was outpacing him. I agreed to give him Belgium in exchange for support into Berlin, then got Germany to agree not to cover Holland in exchange for giving him Berlin. Spoilers: I took Holland, Berlin, and had just seized Kiel.
I had 3 builds, Buff had 0, Russia was stuck in STP south coast. Buff's nearest fleet was in TYS. I built F London, F Lvp, and A Edi, and said let's do this. I know you're not supposed to stab with builds, but the opportunity was there and it appeared I could outpace a growing Russia.
After the builds, Buff looked at me and said, "Is there anything we have to talk about?" I said that he's a very charming guy, at which he was quite insulted. In fact, he repeated "that's insulting" a few times. Not terribly important for the game, but I was amused.
Unfortunately, Germany decided against janissarying for me (damn) and retook Berlin with Russian support in the spring. I took Belgium, but would not be in position to take Brest or Iberia for another couple seasons. Then Germany ordered a move to Kiel in the fall, allowing Russia to take Berlin from him. At the end of the year, Russia was suddenly on 10 while I was on 9, with no one of relevance in the south to stop him.
I immediately called for a draw vote, knowing that if the game kept going I was looking at Russia getting to 18 before I did. Brian Shelden was going to veto to get back at Turkey for... reasons... but changed his mind when I implored "you support your fellow Weasels!" I don't know if that was the cause.
Buffalo was likely to throw the solo if I did not turn back, so I reassured him and said I'm getting out of your way. When I mentioned that 14 dots was worthless to me if Pete got 18, he gained a lot of respect for me. We took the draw, and I walked away with temporary best England of 30 points.
Overall, I played real solid diplomatically in this game. 3 areas of improvement:
- I could have done better to see Russia would outpace me to a solo. I may have been better off taking STP, then killing the German.
- I had a CRUCIAL misoder that would have sent an army into Berlin instead of a fleet. Fleets in Kiel and Berlin aren't super helpful and are tremendously vulnerable.
- I stabbed with the builds. I think Buff would have reacted strongly even if I had built just one fleet, but for some players it may have been smarter to build just F, A, A, then convince France that I was just playing defense and they had nothing to worry about. I can see both sides on this one.